I grew up in a family with little means. Our furniture was secondhand and practical, but not what you would call elegant. Even the desk my parents bought me when I was six, which I loved, was meant for function and sturdiness, not beauty. I had two beautiful things in my home as a child: a pretty bedspread, white printed with small pink clover flowers, and my parents’ jam spoon.
When I was little, it was off limits. I would sneak into the kitchen when my mom was hanging out the wash, open the flatware drawer, pull it out, and watch my reflection in its silver scalloped bowl. When a grown-up approached, I would drop it back into the drawer, shut it, and walk away. I have always been sensitive, but I lived with parents who tended toward loudness and humbler home life. Like a magpie, but without the theft, I would sneak beauty and store it away, to keep me through the long days of austerity and overstimulation.
This week, my little daughter found our jam spoon. It’s not the one I grew up with, but it’s one of the first things I bought for our household when we were newlyweds. I sympathized with her sense of awe as she took in the scallops, the tarnished silver that was still so much brighter than ordinary metals. Our home is chock full of beauty, but the jam spoon still impresses. I suppose some lovely objects can hold their own in any environment.